As we get closer to the predicted weather window, plans are taking shape, and some don’t like it.
West Ridge Canceled
As expected Conrad Anker has pulled the plug on the National Geographic sponsored climb of the West Ridge due to dangerous conditions. He will now join their South Col team. No word on the Eddie Bauer effort but I fully expect the same decision. Anker posted:
“It’s a very dry and windy season. Normally we have terrain that’s snowy. Your crampons have good purchase, and you can move along at a good clip. But what we have now is that that surface layer of snow has been stripped away, leaving bare ice. It’s very ancient ice that’s difficult to climb on.”
The latest posts suggest that Saturday, May 19 is the sweet spot for this window with winds resuming on the 20th. A second window is expected around May 25th.
Some good news about the Icefall for a change, with Dave Hahn posting:
Winds are still raking the upper peaks and ridges and temperatures still seem a bit lower than normal for mid-May. Our walks and scrambles on the glacier adjacent to Basecamp reveal slightly less runoff than we’d consider normal. We choose to view this positively in that the Khumbu Icefall won’t get up to its full speed while things remain remain cool.
In speaking with Todd Burleson, owner of Alpine Ascents this week, he told me that in the past, the Icefall has actually improved towards the end of May so this may be one of those years. Of course it all depends on when the monsoon starts and if the temperatures don’t soar.
There are many teams that will skip this first window and gamble that the second will materialize as predicted. This includes the IMG’s Classic team and Dave Hahn. This is Dave’s standard procedure, he likes to let the crowds go and then have the mountain relatively to himself. But remember, this 13 time Everest summiter is a very fast climber and can work himself out of difficulties:
The weather window is forecasted to be short and the climbers are many, so we will instead take our chances on whatever more substantial break comes afterward. But the waiting is difficult. We are all healthy and feeling strong and we’ve now been down and resting for some time. We want to climb soon and it is difficult to hold back when others are going for it, but our judgment is that a little more patience is called for to fully accomplish our goals.
Kenton Cool added:
Many teams here at base camp have left or are about to leave on their summit bids. It makes waiting at base camp that much harder. So why are we waiting when everyone else is going for the top, well there are a couple of big reasons. Firstly the weather window is marginal at best, the wind cut off we use on Everest is30kmh…in this first window the winds are 25kmh or slightly more (but under 30). This is ok but if Keith and I want to film (and we do what to film) then this will be frost bitten finger weather. The other big concern is the number of people attempting to climb. To get great footage we need no one else in shot. I counted about 80 people climbing through the icefall yesterday, that won’t makefor good film footage……so what to do.
Position and Wait
Meanwhile hundreds of climbers on both the North and South are moving higher today to get in position for this first window. See the location table for the latest based on their public websites.
On the North, Phil Crampton, Altitude Junkies, has his team moving higher:
The entire team, westerners and Sherpas, made the big walk from base camp to advanced base camp today. The rope fixers are planning to finish the route to the summit on the 17th or the 18th so we hopefully make a summit attempt on the 19th. Tomorrow we will plan to climb to the North Col again and the following day climb to camp two and camp three on the 17th and 18th respectively.
There may be 100 people attempting the summit from the North this weekend including a very large Chinese team
On the South, Camp 2 must be a madhouse with my estimate of 200 climbers, Sherpa and guides all hanging out and staring at the Lhotse Face every five minutes.
Adventure Consultants reports:
Today’s rest for members at Camp 2 has been most welcome. We are all re-establishing our equilibrium at this altitude and mentally and physically preparing for summit bid. Today’s weather forecast gave the green light, it is all systems go.
This morning 9 of our Sherpas carried our final loads to the South Col and 5 Sherpa went to Camp 3 and cut tent platforms in the icy slopes of the Lhotse Face. These vital steps completed our teams summit preparation. Tonight at midnight one of our strong climbing Sherpas Ringin will join join an eleven Sherpa summit rope fixing team. There plan tomorrow is to fix ropes all the way to the summitt and then return to the South Col. The positive outcome of this rope fixing is vital to achieving summit ambitions on the 18-21st, the predicted length of this summit weather window. Lets put out the good juju for the rope fixers.
And from Peak Freaks:
Tim reports that our team had a good day at Camp 2, resting and visiting among the other teams who just arrived. He’s impressed with how everyone is working together to space attempts and getting to know each other up there. He also said that the team is pleased that he planned they spend 3 nights minimum at Camp 2: Day 1 to climb – Day 2 to recover – Day 3 to get pumped. The next steps will be in the hands of our communal summit fixing team, so we wait and we watch.
The Mental Challenge
This is one of the most difficult times for climbers and families, regardless of whether they are waiting or climbing.
For those sitting at base camp, the overriding thought is “What if I miss this window.” They understand the crowds, the narrow first window and their leader’s decision to wait, but still … After years of getting this chance, what if being overly conservative robs their dream?
For those now sitting at one of the high camps, every time they hear a tent wall move or puff of strong wind, their ears perk, they glance around and wonder if the wind is picking up or dying down. Their entire lives are in the hands of Mother Nature, and they are helpless.
Either way, those back home sit and wait. They stay busy pretending to go on with their daily lives but their thoughts are far away, high on a mountain; sending positive thoughts to anyone who will listen.
I want to acknowledge all your kind comments on my site. Thanks for taking the time.It will get crazy now with all the summit pushes and I will be updating the site as needed, sometimes a few times a day.
Memories are Everything